Friday, 7 September 2012
The return of Dallas
I defy anyone that lived through the 1980's to not have been on the edge of their seats and part of the Who shot JR debate? Certainly in our house we were Dallas addicts, week in week out we tuned into the shenanigans of the Ewing family, we cried, we laughed and shared in this impossible family's highs and lows.
Escaping our daily mundane lives into the world of oil, scheming, backstabbing, murder, love, lust and shoulder pads proved intoxicating. Success can bring with it greed and lack of loyalty, especially in the dizzying height of the spiralling 80's stock market and the rise of the Yuppie. This show represented the hungry ambitions of the time, illustrating how people stopped at nothing to secure their wealth and reputation. Old money and new money fought bitterly to guard their place in this entrepreneurial, nouveau riche society where money is everything. Loyalty and dignity were definitively unfashionable.
The intrigue kept the world hooked and a void was left in our lives when it ended in 1991. The characters had become part of our lives and conversation, the fix of this fantasy world sadly came to a close.
But now it is back with the new generation, as well as our favourite characters. It was quite a shock to see JR so mute and unresponsive, though in actual fact I think he was biding his time and, at the end of the first episode it was a joy to see him back to his old self. I think we're going to be in for a treat once he gathers momentum. The evil JR will stop at nothing including stepping over his eldest son to seek his revenge on his docile brother Bobby. It remains a good looking programme, glamorous and aspirational, pure escapism for the masses. For those that can't afford such luxury they can elope with the dream week in week out, leaving their banal lives behind them for an hour to indulge in a fantastical world. Men are 'real' men: butch, womanisers, hard living yet appealing. Women are immaculately groomed and dressed, seemingly subservient Mothers and whores. Stereotypes seem to rein on the surface in Dallas though this new generation looks like they might be challenging some of these preconceptions. With the housekeeper's daughter, as one to watch as she takes on the reins of an eager young businesswoman determined to make it in this male dominated world of oil.
Is Dallas still relevant today one might ask? With the advent of slick television making and well considered plots and characters drawing from real life, will these unbelievable characters survive? I think yes. Society needs entertainment and elusion particularly in this tough economic climate. Why do musicals do so well in the West End? Because people want a couple of hours in their lives away from what is troubling them. They want to enter an unfamiliar, indulgent world where they won't be challenged just for pure entertainment. Popular culture isn't called popular culture for nothing, it appeals to all not just the highbrow. Dallas is the epitome of popular culture which provides something for everyone.
I for one am hooked already and am looking forward to joining the adventures of the Ewing family where not only Bobby and JR are fighting it out but their gorgeous sons are too! Love and business will prove to be a heady uncontrollable mix!